Soy is one of the best sources of nutrition. It is naturally low in calories, low in saturated fat and is free of cholesterol. Soy products are rich in a wide variety of essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and minerals, and can provide balanced nutrition for your body. Soy also contains valuable phytosterols that contributes to its health advantages. Regular intake of soy-rich foods can effectively help you strengthen your immunity against a number of diseases such as cancer, stroke and cardiac arrhythmia. Soy is especially effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels.
Why Does Soy Reduce Cholesterol?
There are three important nutrients in soy that contribute to its cholesterol lowering ability:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): it is a type of vegetable based omega-3 fatty acids that occurs in soy. Studies have shown that increased intake of ALA can result in reduction of heart disease potential. The proposed mechanism is that your body converts ALA into EPA and DHA, which are two longer chained omega-3 fatty acids commonly found in coldwater fish like salmon and tuna. Both of these omega-3s help reduce your “bad” low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides.
- Oleic acid (OA): the other “good” fat in soy is oleic acid (OA). This monounsaturated fat blocks your dietary and synthesized cholesterol from entering your bloodstream, effectively controlling your blood cholesterol level. Studies have shown that regular intake of OA not only reduces your LDL and triglycerides, but also increases your beneficial high density lipoproteins (HDL).
- Phytoestrogen: this is the primary phytosterol found in soy. It acts similarly to human female sex hormone estrogen. Lower estrogen levels can cause a significant increase in blood cholesterol. This becomes a major risk factor for postmenopausal women. Phytoestrogen can effectively mimic the function of human estrogen and naturally keeps your cholesterol under control.
How to Include Soy in Your Diet
One of the added benefits of soy is that it is so widely available in food. Soy milk, soy yogurts, tofu, Edamame and vegan burgers are all great dietary sources of soy nutrition. Below are some examples of how you can add soy into your diet:
Replace your dairy milk with soy milk; you should not drink whole milk if you have cholesterol problems. Whole milk is high in both saturated fat and cholesterol. Nonfat milk is watery and unsatisfying. Unsweetened soy milk is a much more nutritious and tasty choice. You can also substitute your regular milk with soy milk to make your desserts or bake your muffins.
Trade your hamburger for a soy burger; hamburgers are full of saturated fat, salt and cholesterol. Vegan burgers made of soy are much healthier with a high dose of essential fats and fiber. They are as rich in taste with only 100 calories per patty, so you can enjoy them without worry.
Toss Edamame or tofu into your salad; adding a few spoonfuls of Edamame or tofu chunks into your salad delivers significant amounts of essential proteins to your meal. They also give your salad better texture and taste.
If you are troubled by high blood cholesterol, eat soy products often. You will see a remarkable difference in your cholesterol level in no time.